Cloudy With A Chance Of Apple: How An iTunes Cloud Service Might Look

Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) has yet to make any public announcements on cloud-based music services, but some more details have emerged that seem to indicate that this is precisely what the company has in mind.
On the heels of yesterday’s news that Apple has apparently inked a deal with EMI for streaming music — and today’s news that Sony has also been signed up — the blog Patently Apple has uncovered a patent filed back in Q4 2009 by Apple.
The big question, though, is whether this a smokescreen; a single bullet from the patent scattergun; or the real thing?

The application goes through some detail in describing the architecture for a cloud-based music system, even going so far as to include a mock-up of how iTunes would look with the new system incorporated into it:

It also includes potential scenarios for how it would work in terms of hosting media files on local devices and on external servers. From the description on the blog, there seem to be several scenarios listed for how such a system would work. Here are two:

Apple has filed a number of patents (links to two recent ones are here) that have yet to make their way into product form.
Why? Such moves might serve to keep competitors guessing about the company’s actual intentions; or be Apple’s way of making sure it is covering all bases in an increasingly patent-litigious climate.
But if the many other stories around Apple and cloud music that have been surfacing in the past few days are to be believed, this may be one to put in the “yes” pile.
The many cloud-based music services that have hit the market have been met with moderate (and sometimes no) success; with iTunes currently holding the majority of the digital music market, Apple could have a better chance than most to open those clouds up.